Sarah’s Laughter: Doubt, Tears, and Christian Hope
by Vinoth Ramachandran
Langham Global Library Langham Publishing (2020)
FES Library book call number: 234.2 RAM
“Sarah’s Laughter is faith’s constant companion” – this is the quote that Dr. Vinoth Ramachandra opens with in his final chapter of Sarah’s Laughter: Doubt, Tears and Christian Hope. Here are three things I appreciate most about this book: Dr Ramachandra’s authenticity in his writing, the artful & rigorous engagement with both the head and heart of the reader (a task extremely difficult to achieve given the topic) as well as the wealth of references and experiences the book features.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle a lot with trying to wrap my head around all the brokenness in this world and in my own life. Right from the get go, the book underscores the reality of this brokenness and the role of lamentations. The theological basis on why we lament and how we should view lamenting as a sign of faith as well as agency was greatly appreciated.
I was so thankful for how the book did not shy away from really hard questions. Dr Ramachandra presents prominent doubts and questions that many logical thinking persons would have with such eloquence. In the book, he really gets to the centre of many of these important concerns about the state of this world, brokenness, evil, pain and suffering; He unapologetically points out the dissonance and dysfunction, to which he daringly asks “Can God really be trusted in the face of all this mess?” (Spoiler alert, the answer is a resounding yes).
With each chapter comes a deep engagement with very relevant key concerns, to which the Christian faith is shown to not be found wanting. The responses also feature a wonderful array of references, from Scripture to other writers such as Ugandan theologians and an Anglican clergyman in Sri Lanka. It also covers a wide spectrum of examples one may call to mind when thinking of pain and suffering – from historical events such as civil wars, to personal tragedy or affliction to even the presence parasites in nature. Each chapter was illuminating and the points featured in response to all the accusations we may often have against God (but also perhaps struggle to admit or raise) not only made up an extremely intellectually satisfying read but personally gripped my heart. Each chapter truly renewed my conviction of God’s goodness, my sinfulness, my need for Him and my reliance on His grace.
In sum, the book doesn’t water down the reality of brokenness, the validity of the struggle nor the goodness of God. A must read for any believer – for I believe it prepares us for the reality of the brokenness and pain we are to continue to partake it as we respond to the call to pick up our cross daily and follow Christ.
Joelle Chan Mei Si
Student from NUS VCF (Arts)